Culligan Water Softener Review: Finding the Right Fit for Your Home

Updated on:
January 6, 2024

Culligan is well-known for its water treatment systems, but are its water softeners deserving of all the hype? If you’re looking for a water softener and can’t sort out the truth from the marketing, I’ve got you covered.

My Culligan water softener review will give you all the important details about this brand. With over 25 years in the water treatment industry, I can tell you everything you need to know. I’ve researched and personally tested Culligan water softeners, as well as consulting verified customers, licensed plumbers, and local distributors dealing in Culligan products.

I’ll explain what sets Culligan apart from other brands and the advantages it brings to the table. But I won’t sugarcoat. I’ll also tell you what’s not to like about Culligan. That way, you’ll know for sure whether it’s the right choice for you.

Culligan Water Softeners At a Glance

Culligan Brand Overview

When it comes to performance, Culligan doesn’t stand out significantly from other well-known brands except in a few notable areas: It provides monthly salt delivery and checkups by an expert, and many of its models can be installed outdoors.

However, owning a Culligan water softener can be a costly affair. The initial price you pay up-front is quite high, and that’s just the beginning. To keep it running smoothly, you’ll also need to budget for its expert installation and regular maintenance performed by the Culligan Man, which can add up over time.

And there are some other considerable downsides: 

  • Not DIY friendly
  • Too many options
  • Limited distribution
  • Hidden prices
  • Limited access to spare parts
  • Confusing differentiation between salt-based water softeners and conditioners
  • No overflow safety features or sediment pre-filters

Culligan provides a one-year warranty on its systems, as well as five years for certain equipment, such as probes and meters, and ten years for electrical components.

Overall, it seems there’s nothing particularly exceptional about Culligan water softeners or its subsidiary brand, Aquasential, which includes extremely similar units to the Culligan-named models, which, in all honesty, I don’t see the point of. 

All the features and specifications, including high efficiency, solid warranty, serviceability, and customer support that Culligan offers, can also be found in popular brands like SpringWell, Crystal Quest, or US Water Systems. 

Actually, some other brands might outshine Culligan by being more up-front about their pricing and selling directly. Still, Culligan has a long list of water softeners to choose from, and since every homeowner has different needs, Culligan might have a water softener that meets your criteria. Let’s explore each model individually. 

1. Aquasential Smart High Efficiency Water Softener

This water softener is best for users who want an energy-efficient system that can reduce salt and water consumption. 

Pros

  • Wide range of grain capacities means most homeowners can find one to suit their circumstances
  • Smart technology adjusts operation according to your specific water conditions and usage
  • Internet capability means you can control and monitor your water softener from your mobile device.
  • Durable enough to withstand outdoor installation.
  • Iron removal during regeneration can protect the resin bed from corrosion over time.

Cons

  • Includes no sediment pre-filter to protect the resin bed from sediment buildup. 
  • Most models use only 8% crosslink resin, which is inferior to 10% crosslink.
  • Inclusion of both upflow and downflow regeneration seems unnecessary and counterproductive.
  • Comes with no safety features to prevent overflow.

Overall

Culligan’s Aquasential Smart High Efficiency Water Softener is a decent choice for reducing salt and water consumption, ultimately reducing your operating costs. Its salt-level monitor and salt refill alerts mean you only use as much salt as you need. It has smart technology and internet connectivity, as well as water and energy-saving features. 

And what’s more, you can install it indoors or out.

Still, it has its downsides, mainly that it doesn’t come with any pre-filtration. If you’re on well water, sand or silt could get into the unit and damage the resin and other components, requiring a sediment pre-filter. 

If you’re on city water, chlorine could do the same thing, which would require an activated carbon pre-filter. So you may need an additional component to protect the longevity of this softener, which means extra money. Many other manufacturers include pre-filtration in their softener units. 

More importantly, though, with cryptic pricing and a complicated purchase procedure, one wonders if Culligan even wants you to buy one of its water softeners. You’re better off going with a brand that makes it easier to purchase a water softener.

See my list of the eight best water softeners to find brands that will tell you everything you need to know about their water softeners without hiding or misconstruing information.

2. Culligan High Efficiency 1-Inch Water Softener

This Culligan water softener is designed to reduce salt and water usage by up to 46%.

Pros

  • The Culligan HE 1-Inch Water Softener uses smart technology to cut down salt, water, and power consumption by up to 46%. 
  • With four tank sizes ranging from 30,000 grains to up to 99,000 grains, you can easily select the tank size that suits your water hardness level and home size. 
  • Smart technology automatically sends maintenance reports to your Culligan service provider.
  • This series can remove iron up to 5 ppm, which protects your resin bed from degradation.
  • Durable construction makes this water softener suitable for outdoor installation.

Cons

  • Contains no sediment pre-filter.
  • Comes with no safety features to prevent overflow.
  • Inclusion of both downflow and upflow regeneration models is unnecessary.

Overall

If you’re looking for a Culligan system that reduces your operating costs by cutting down on salt and water consumption, and comes with smart technology, the Culligan High Efficiency 1-Inch Water Softener is a suitable choice.

3. Aquasential Select Series

According to Culligan, the Aquasential Select Series is best for those looking for an affordable design. 

Due to missing features most users would come to expect in 2023, it’s no wonder it’s far cheaper than Culligan’s other models. 

Pros

  • Affordable price compared to other Culligan models.
  • It comes in four tank sizes to suit small to medium families. 
  • The fiberglass tank’s strong resistance to corrosion makes this softener well-suited for use in humid regions.

Cons

  • Does not come equipped with any smart technologies to enhance operation, energy conservation, or remote usability.
  • No overflow safety features protect your home in case of malfunction.
  • No sediment pre-filter.

Overall

The Aquasential Select Series is great for homeowners with mildly hard water and small to medium families who need softened water but are worried about budget. 

However, it’s missing a lot of fun and essential features that make owning a modern water softener easy.

4. Aquasential Smart High-Efficiency Municipal Water Softener

The Aquasential Smart HE municipal water softener from Culligan is designed to treat chlorine, making it the best Aquasential water softener for homes on municipal water. 

Pros

  • It uses activated carbon media to treat chlorine, a disinfection product used in municipal water that remains even when the water reaches your home. This helps protect the resin bed as well as making your water smell and taste better.
  • Its smart brine tanks and soft-minder meters reduce salt usage, monitoring salt consumption and sending updates to the system diagnostics. 
  • It also has a Dial-A-Softness valve to adjust water softness to suit your needs.

Cons

  • Unlike other Culligan models, this water softener cannot remove iron in water, resulting in faster degradation of the resin bed. 
  • According to the manual, this softener can treat hardness up to 15 gpg, while other models can go up to about 90 gpg. 
  • May not remove disinfectant by-products like trihalomethanes that are formed when chlorine reacts with organic pollutants in water.
  • Not any different from the Culligan HE Municipal Water Conditioner, which isn’t even a conditioner, it’s a salt-based water softener. 
  • Comes with no safety features to prevent overflow and no sediment pre-filter.

Overall

Culligan’s Aquasential HE Municipal Water Softener may work for you if you’re dealing with pesky chlorine and its smell in your hard water. But it’s important to test your water for trihalomethanes or other disinfectant by-products because this system doesn’t specifically treat these pollutants. 

5. HE Municipal Water Conditioner

This system is for you if you want to remove chlorine in water along with hard minerals. 

Although the name has “conditioner” in it, it’s actually a salt-based water softener and it is not very different from Aquasential HE municipal water softener.

Pros

  • Wide range of grain capacity and sizes means this model can suit small or large homes with mild to moderately hard water.
  • Uses activated carbon media to treat chlorine.
  • The system automatically sends water quality reports and maintenance alerts to the Culligan expert.
  • Suitable for outdoor installation.

Cons

  • Like the Aquasential municipal water softener, may not remove chlorine disinfectant by-products like trihalomethane.
  • Cannot remove iron.
  • Has the capacity to treat up to 15 gpg of water hardness, while other models can treat up to 70 gpg.
  • No safety features protect your home from overflow flood in case of malfunction and no sediment pre-filter.
  • This is not a conditioner, it’s a salt-based water softener.

Overall

Culligan’s HE Municipal “Conditioner” is quite similar to Aquasential HE municipal softener and works well against chlorine in municipal water. Why Culligan insists on marketing such similar products, one under the Culligan name and one under the Aquasential name, is beyond me.

6. Aquasential Smart High Efficiency Softener-Cleer

This water softener is for you if you’re suffering from rotten egg smell in your water due to iron and sulfur-reducing bacteria. 

Pros

  • This model is designed to automatically detect the presence of iron and sulfur-reducing bacteria in water and adjust filtration. 
  • The system can remove iron up to 10 ppm, resulting in longer-lasting resin beads.
  • Smart technology allows you to connect it to the Culligan Connect App and the Soft Minder meter, which sends maintenance alerts to the Culligan man. 
  • Suitable for outdoor installation.

Cons

  • This softener lacks the advanced technology to optimize the regeneration of the resin bed and reduce water consumption.
  • No overflow safety features protect your home in case of malfunction.
  • No sediment pre-filter to protect the system from sediment buildup.

Overall

The Aquasential Smart High Efficiency Softener-Cleer is a good option if you want to specifically target iron and sulfur-reducing bacteria in your water. Note that it is not designed to remove hydrogen sulfide in the water, a common cause of rotten egg smell. 

7. HE Softener-Cleer Home Water Conditioner

The Culligan HE Softener Cleer can remove iron and sulfur-reducing bacteria in water and reduce the rotten egg smell — if that’s what’s causing it. 

Pros

  • Targets iron and sulfur-reducing bacteria in water.
  • The softener tracks your daily water usage and offers advanced system diagnostics.
  • Can protect the resin bed from corrosion by removing iron up to 10 ppm.
  • Suitable for installation outdoors.

Cons

  • Contains no smart technology to adapt to water condition changes, making it less eco-friendly than other models from Culligan.
  • This unit is misnamed as a conditioner, which shows carelessness — or worse, deceit — from Culligan; it uses salt.
  • No sediment pre-filter or overflow protection.

Overall

The Culligan HE Softener-Cleer Home is a decent choice if you’re looking to reduce rotten egg smell, but I couldn’t find any significant difference between this model and Aquasential HE Softener-Cleer. Again, Culligan has too many options, and considering how hard it is to purchase one, it just further complicates this brand.

8. Twin-Tank Models 

Culligan’s twin-tank models are ideal for individuals seeking water softeners suitable for apartment buildings or commercial use.

Pros

  • These water softeners are suitable for larger households, apartment buildings, and commercial applications.
  • A twin-tank system minimizes regeneration downtime, making it ideal for situations with high water demand.
  • The HE Twin Tank series has models with a grain capacity as high as 88,000, making them suitable for very hard water. 

Cons

  • The additional tank means these units are more expensive than single-tank ones. 
  • They’re likely too much softener for the average home.
  • No overflow safety features protect your home in case of malfunction.
  • No sediment pre-filter to protect the moving parts and resin bed from sediment buildup.

Overall

Culligan’s heavy-duty water softeners, the Aquasential Smart HE Twin Softener and the HE Twin water softeners, are excellent choices for small-scale commercial use. These designs are particularly well-suited for high-water-demand applications, including large suites, apartments, and commercial use. 

Plus, the system comes with Culligan’s smart technology, which reduces salt usage and power consumption and allows your Culligan expert to monitor it in real-time.

9. Aquasential Salt-Free Water Conditioner

This system is best for those with mildly hard water who don’t wish to add salt to their water supply.

The only true water conditioner from Culligan, despite the fact it calls several softeners “conditioners,” this unit neutralizes contaminants but doesn’t remove them.

Pros

  • Water conditioners don’t waste water.
  • Zero salt is added to your water supply.
  • Requires very little maintenance compared to a water softener.
  • Neutralization can reduce limescale in your appliances and on your fixtures.

Cons

  • Doesn’t actually soften water.
  • Will do nothing to soften laundry or protect skin and hair from hard minerals.

Overall

If you’re seeking a solution to reduce scale buildup in your plumbing without adding salt to your water supply, the Aquasential Salt-Free Water Conditioner is a suitable choice. It’s important to note that while it helps with scale and white spots in your shower, it does not eliminate water hardness or enhance the taste and odor of your water.

Methodology 

You might wonder how I conducted my research into Culligan’s water softeners to deliver this review to your smartphone or tablet, whatever modern wonder you’re reading from right now. Well, here’s how I researched and analyzed Culligan to provide an unbiased review.

Step 1: A list of Culligan water softeners 

Culligan boasts an extensive range of several models within the water softener category. To start my research process, I gathered the names and comprehensive specifications for each of these models by exploring the official Culligan website.

Step 2: Product analysis

Before I started looking into Culligan, I did some research on water softeners. I wanted to understand how different water softening methods work, including the maximum grain capacity a high-efficiency water softener can handle, how long water softeners typically last, and how much maintenance they require.

I also had conversations with plumbers and contractors who work with the newest water softeners. I learned a lot from them in just a few hours of talking.

After that, I began exploring Culligan as a water treatment brand. I compared Culligan’s softening technology with other water softener brands and learned about the differences in distribution, pricing, warranties, and installation requirements.

Step 3: Online reviews

Naturally, my research wouldn’t be comprehensive without considering the feedback from users who have experience with Culligan water softeners. The objective was to gauge how well these softeners perform in various water hardness scenarios by looking at other Culligan water softener reviews. 

I was genuinely impressed by the level of detail and thoroughness in the online customer reviews. However, it’s no surprise that given these customers invested a significant amount in the product, they had a lot to share.

I was somewhat disappointed by the fact that Culligan does not display reviews for each model on their website. I had to visit websites like Consumer Reports, TrustPilot, and Reddit to get a general overview of Culligan.

Step 4: Interviews with real customers

In the previous stage of my research, I had the opportunity to reach out to a few customers directly. Since online reviews aren’t always completely reliable, this was a crucial step.

It turned out to be incredibly valuable! These generous individuals shared their test results and provided detailed accounts of their experiences with their Culligan water softeners. Some even went the extra mile and invited me over to check out their systems in action at home.

Step 5: Interview with Culligan

I had a few questions about Culligan, and who better to ask than Culligan itself, right? So, I sent an email to Culligan’s media people. It’s not that I have phone anxiety, I just wanted to see if they paid attention to their inbox.

Surprisingly, someone from Culligan replied within a few hours, providing all the details I needed. Taking a shot, I also forwarded some of the complaints I’d come across during my research. I appreciated that they responded calmly and acknowledged their areas for improvement.

Step 6: Test drives

Now, onto the part I enjoyed the most! I rented the Culligan water softeners and created a testing setup in my garage, near my water line’s point of entry. It did take a long time, since I wanted to test each model through a regeneration, but a big shoutout to my friend Paul who helped with each installation. 

I ran tests on each Culligan water softening system continuously for five weeks. This involved installing the products, setting them up, performing maintenance, testing the filtered water’s hardness, checking the flow rate, and evaluating their overall efficiency.

Step 7: Ratings

Now that I had gathered all the essential information required for my final ranking, I inputted all the details into the spreadsheet and began scoring each model based on the following criteria:

  • Softening technology: ion exchange or conditioning 
  • Filtration or no filtration
  • Resin quality
  • Smart technology
  • Regeneration
  • Eco-friendliness
  • Grain capacity
  • Ease of installation
  • Safety features (or in the case of Culligan, the lack thereof)
  • Cost 
  • Warranty

Conclusion 

I hope this Culligan water softener review has pointed you in the right direction. If you’re determined to stick with a Culligan water softener system, I’m sure there’s one for you. After all, Culligan, like any other company, has its pros and cons. It may be a good fit for some users but not for everyone. 

While you can expect a high-quality and durable water softener with convenient service and installation by a Culligan expert, it comes at significant cost. These systems are not suitable for DIY installation or maintenance.

Additionally, you cannot purchase a Culligan water softener directly from the Culligan website. The only option is to get in touch with a representative or find a local Culligan dealer, and most users don’t find this very convenient because dealers can quote their own prices and rip you off. 

Considering the lack of safety features and additional filtration, these are pretty basic water softeners by modern standards. Ultimately, you can find more affordable water softeners with similar reliability but better features and accessibility. 

Alternatives

I’ve tested and analyzed various brands during my research, and you can explore this comprehensive water softener review to find information about different brands. And if you need to eliminate contaminants from your water supply while also softening it, take a look at the best whole-house water filter and softener combinations.

If you’ve decided the Culligan brand is more hype than heft, I’ve compiled a few superior alternatives for you to take a look at. 

SpringWell Salt-Based Water Softener

Unlike Culligan, SpringWell lists all its prices on its website. You can effortlessly compare them with other brands and make a hassle-free online purchase without the need to locate a dealer or contact a customer representative. There’s no risk of getting ripped off or over-charged by their representatives since the price is fixed and displayed on the website.

And to top it off, SpringWell’s reliable water softeners cost less than Culligan water softeners and come with a lifetime warranty and a six-month money-back guarantee. 

In terms of performance, SpringWell and Culligan are on a similar level. But when it comes to installation and maintenance, SpringWell water softeners can be DIY-ed if you have basic plumbing knowledge. There’s no requirement to hire a licensed plumber to maintain your warranty.

If you want an affordable water softener with high efficiency and softening abilities, a lifetime warranty, and easy maintenance, you can get the SpringWell water softener here

US Water Systems Matrixx Smart Metered Water Softener

The US Water Systems Matrixx Smart Metered Water Softener stands out for its flood prevention feature, specifically designed to safeguard your home from water damage during power outages. 

It has a 9-volt battery backup that keeps it running during a power outage, preventing water wastage or flooding from regeneration. This system is Bluetooth-enabled and offers one-touch programming, allowing you to schedule regeneration only when necessary. This can help you save up to 70% on salt and water usage.

Like SpringWell, US Water Systems is transparent about its prices, and its water softeners are easy to maintain and install compared to Culligan systems. 

For a smart water softener that provides flood protection for your home, consider the US Water Systems Matrixx Smart Metered Water Softener.

Here, you’ll discover a selection of insightful reviews that we have thoughtfully gathered for your consideration.

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